News blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf neighborhood

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Our Scarlet-fronted Parakeets are back

February 14th, 2015 by Mike

Maple Leaf’s own feral flock of Scarlet-fronted Parakeets have returned.

At least a half-dozen of them were spotted (and heard!) at noon today near Northeast 88th Street and 12th Avenue Northeast.

They flew off to the northeast. (Minutes later, an American Crow chased a Merlin off a conifer near 15th Avenue Northeast. It flew off southeast.)

We last posted about the feral flock in 2011. Then, and more recently, only a few birds were seen.

We first wrote about them in 2010:

The flock has been around for decades, at least since the early 1990s, and possibly got started when bird-lovers discovered their pet parakeets were too loud to keep in the house. Local lore has it that the birds winter in Maple Leaf and spend summer vacations at Seward Park.

The size of the flock varies, but there don’t seem to be as many now as eight or 10 years ago, when a dozen or more parakeets would descend on the neighborhood. Over time they have been called parrots, Crimson-fronted parakeets, Red-fronted Conures and Mitred conures.

(Aratinga wagleri photo courtesy Dennis Paulson.)

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Traffic news: 20-mph zones and rush hour times

February 13th, 2015 by Mike

Our news partner The Seattle Times posted two stories this week that should interest many, perhaps most, of us.

Today’s piece is on a pilot program in Seattle to reduce speeds on some arterials streets from 35 mph to 20 mph. As for major streets,the plan calls for: “Review arterial speed limits and reduce to 30 mph or lower.”

Seattle will try limits of 20 mph for streets in five to 10 residential areas this year — including a swath of Lake City around the library, and a piece of Seward Park Avenue South at Rainier Beach High School.

Cities may lower speeds under a bill sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, that passed the Legislature in 2013.

This has been frequently discussed in Maple Leaf, but until the new legislation passed there was no legal authority for local officials to make the change. The argument is that many more pedestrians (or bicyclists) can survive being hit by a car at 20 mph than at 35-40 mph.

None of Maple Leaf’s streets are directly involved in this year’s change, but proposed future changes include part of Lake City Way Northeast in our neighborhood (green lines).

The plan, dubbed Vision Zero, involves a number of other changes:

The city’s broad traffic-safety effort will include slower speeds, more school-zone cameras, fewer right turns on red and targeted enforcement. The name, “Vision Zero,” refers to a statewide effort by law enforcement, government, urbanist and safety groups to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.

The Times story is here. The full Vision Zero plan (pdf) is here.

The Times’ “FYI Guy” earlier this week posted an interactive look at commute times throughout the city under the headline: “What times does your neighborhood leave for work?”

Locally, the FYI Guy says:

Very few of us leave for work in the late morning or afternoon, but it’s not uncommon in areas with a large concentration of people who do shift work, such as food service or retail jobs. The University District has a high percentage, as do Northgate, downtown Seattle and many areas in south King County.

The story and map are here. Below is the 10 a.m. commute from Northgate.

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Backpack lost this morning in Maple Leaf

February 13th, 2015 by Mike

Judy emails:

Is there a way to post a lost backpack? Maybe someone found it. Lost this morning between Northeast 86th Street and Roosevelt Way Northeast and Roosevelt and Northgate Way.

It was accidentally set on the outside of our work truck, so it fell off somewhere. Thanks if you can help!

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Quick update on the Northgate pedestrian bridge

February 10th, 2015 by Mike

The story thus far:

* There WAS a plan to spend around $20 million to connect the neighborhoods across Interstate 5 to Maple Leaf and the Northgate transit center and light rail station via a pedestrian and bike bridge from North Seattle College to the station. Got that? (It entirely avoids the word “interagency.”)

* It ran out of money. Specifically, Sound Transit set a July 2015 full funding deadline, after which it would withdraw the $5 million it committed. Seattle failed to get a federal grant, leading to a cliffhanger going into the new year….

* Now the Seattle Bike Blog reports:

In a recent response, Sound Transit staff say they will recommend that their Board extend the deadline to February 2016. While not a huge amount of extra time, it will give leaders more opportunities to identify funding options.

That letter from Sound Transit is here.

As Charles B. commented late last month: “Stay tuned….”

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Two reports of scammers in the neighborhood

February 9th, 2015 by Mike

Two different readers emailed to alert the neighborhood to possible scams this weekend.

Late this morning Steve wrote:

A fellow calling himself “Larry Anderson” called late Saturday afternoon to say that the utility bill for our son’s restaurant was overdue and our power would be shut off.

He said go to the drug store to buy a PaymentPak and call him back with the 10-digit number. “Larry” is probably in Belize or Florida….there is no such person working for the power company. I DID NOT buy a PaymentPak I DID NOT PAY HIM $400! I did call the FBI and I did contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The key is that utility companies do not ask for money order or paymentpak payments, especially on weekends when all the staff has gone home.

The Federal Trade Commission has a blog page about this.

And on Saturday Kristin wrote:

I wanted to put the word out that a man came to my door this evening (Eighth Avenue Northeast and Northeast 94th Street) asking “where we wanted him to deliver our free newspaper”. He said “they were offering free newspapers to people”.

I told him we didn’t take the paper and didn’t want it. He left without trying to come into my home, but immediately got into a truck and drove away instead of continuing on to another house as he should have done if he was in fact selling the newspaper.

This incident was very similar (not the same man) to an incident that occurred last summer at the same time of day/same day of the week (Saturday).

I reported the incident to 911 and she said they would send a car to do a drive-by.    Just wanted neighbors to be aware.

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Rain slackens for evening, but some spots flood

February 6th, 2015 by Mike

KIRO is now tweeting: “Steady rain is moving out of Puget Sound and into the Cascade Mtns. Much drier evening w/ fewer showers.”

But North Seattle College (just across Interstate 5 from Maple Leaf on Northeast 92nd Street just emailed: “Northeast parking lot near the Wellness Center will be closed off due to flooding.Please remove your car if you are parked in the NE lot as soon as possible.”

Any other flooded areas?

Rain returns Saturday.

(Rain update: 0.86 inches this morning at Maple Leaf Life South.)

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Wet, wet, wet – plus more mail thefts

February 5th, 2015 by Mike

Cliff Mass’ headline probably says it best: “Triple Atmospheric River Event to Hit the West Coast.”

That was posted Wednesday, as was this from the Seattle office of the National Weather Service: “A series of waves will bring periods of heavy rain to the area tonight through Monday.

“The 5 day rainfall total for the mountains could be 10 to 13 inches in some areas, with 1 to 4 inches for the lowlands…. Winds will be southerly and gusty for nearly all areas tonight through Friday, with the strongest winds on the Coast and North Interior.

“Winds could be gusty again Saturday. Stay tuned to the latest forecasts for this wet and windy weekend!”

The Seattle Times points out the rain is snarling morning commutes.

Mass says:

Probably the most significant West Coast heavy rain event of the winter will occur during the next few days, with Northern California being the hardest hit.  Three “atmospheric rivers” will strike the coast between now and Sunday, with the middle one possibly being the strongest in years.

Overnight Wednesday into today 0.72 inches of rain fell at Maple Leaf Life South.

In more terrestrial pursuits - mail theft, John emails:

Found a big pile of stolen mail at Olympic View Elementary School playground. Included some folks’ tax stuff. I’d found more in early January along Eighth Avenue Northeast in the vicinity of the school and dumped near my house on Northeast 97th Street.

One neighbor’s stolen mail included a credit card statement, and someone subsequently tried to use that card fraudulently.

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Measles vax exemptions low in Maple Leaf schools

February 4th, 2015 by Mike

Our news partner The Seattle Times published a story this afternoon on the percentage of students in city Washington state schools who are exempt from being vaccinated for measles.

The Times story is here: Vaccine exemptions exceed 10 percent at dozens of Seattle-area schools.

The good news: No schools in Maple Leaf proper are in that batch.

Exactly what percentage of people/students vaccinated is required for “herd immunity” to kick in varies from source to source, but the number the Times is using – 90 percent – seems fairly average.

The Perkins School – a private school in the heart of Maple Leaf on Roosevelt Way Northeast, across from Maple Leaf Ace Hardware – has one of the lowest local exemptions – 1.7 percent, or one student.

Olympic View Elementary School is at 6 percent, Sacajawea Elementary at 9.3 percent. Eckstein Middle School is at 7.4 percent, Nathan Hale High School (not in the 98115 code) is 8.9 percent.

Here is the Times’ tool for finding schools and their data.

Below are the Times data for schools associated with the  98115 zip code. Data for some private schools was unavailable.

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Two Maple Leaf scenes this morning

February 3rd, 2015 by Mike

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All over

February 1st, 2015 by Mike

The rain was blowing sideways – UNTIL noon.

There were few people in Maple Leaf Reservoir Park wearing green and blue – UNTIL NOON.


* The rain (mostly) DISAPPEARED.

* 125 Seahawk fans appeared.

* And 15 dogs.

* And KING-5 TV.

* There were chants.

* And blue and green BALLOONS.

Soon, it will be 3:30 p.m.

Following photo courtesy Donna Hartmann-Miller, seen above at top of ladder.

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Maple Leaf’s 12th Bear is on the job this Sunday

February 1st, 2015 by Mike

Elston and his bruin brothers. Editor’s note: Hard to fit all 12 bears into one frame.

Cloud City Coffee is closing at 3 p.m. And offering the Legion of Boom: “Whole milk latte with four shots and no foam. Representing the Seahawks secondary, a shot for each starter and no cushion.

“Expect to be knocked down.”

Maple Leaf Ace Hardware is closing at 3 p.m. “We are having FREE Seahawk Face Painting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can get all dolled up for THE GAME.”

Friends for a Greater Maple Leaf Park will again take the 12th Man photo at the park, noon sharp.

And Maple Leaf Life is providing the 12th Bear – one dozen of them (plus a Tigger who came along because that’s what Tiggers do).

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Police now shifting beats, staffing to bust crime

January 29th, 2015 by Mike

The Seattle Police Department has a new chief, a new(ish) mayor and will soon deal with a new City Council whose members will represent specific neighborhoods.

It also has new approaches to fighting crime.

Our news partner The Seattle Times has a story this week on the police “SeaStat” program – a statistics-driven way to deploy resources and hopefully reduce crime.

And, the department is re-drawing police patrol beats and shifting staffing. The changes follow a wave of criticism this fall that police are not pursuing property crimes and perhaps are too short-staffed to be effective, specifically in the North Precinct that covers Maple Leaf. The Times had an update last month.

Now the police have announced more changes, beginning this week.

For the first time since 2008, the Seattle Police Department is shifting the boundaries of its 51 police beats. The change will improve officer supervision and public safety service, better align police patrols with Seattle’s neighborhoods, and achieve a major milestone in the department’s work toward reform with the Department of Justice.

Beginning January 28th, the department will increase the number of patrols squads and sergeants at each of SPD’s five precincts, improving each precinct’s officer-to-supervisor ratio.

The full release is here.

One thing that might mean for Maple Leaf is an easier way to track crime trends.

Maple Leaf  for years has taken up chunks, but not all, of three different patrol beats in the North Precinct: Nora 3, Union 1 and Lincoln 2 (see top map), making it impossible to reliably look at crime over time in just our neighborhood. (See The problem with tracking crime in Maple Leaf.)

It’s hard to say for sure, but the revised beat map (below) might place all or most of Maple Leaf into one beat, Lincoln 2.

As part of the patrol map realignment, the department will also revise neighborhood-based crime data available on My Neighborhood Maps, Tweets By Beat and Data.Seattle.Gov to reflect the new beat boundaries. The new data is expected to be available by mid-February.

SPD’s Tweets By Beat and My Neighborhood Maps will be offline and unavailable until February 2nd as part of the beat update.

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Tonight’s community meeting is live

January 28th, 2015 by Mike

Seattle Police Officers M. Rios and Nic Plemel address the meeting.

More than 70 neighbors are at this evening’s meeting of the Maple Leaf Community Council.

The agenda includes briefings on the old Waldo Hospital site, traffic on Lake City Way, crime in the neighborhood, and new apartments near Northgate Mall.

Questions were raised over homeless camps in Thornton Creek, drug use and squatters in  vacant buildings.

“A common problem with vacant buildings is determining who has the actual (legal) authority over the building,” said Officer M. Rios. Otherwise, “our legal authority to move somebody out is very limited,” she said.

Also, who responds to off-leash dog complaints at Maple Leaf Reservoir Park?

“We would try to de-escalate the situation first,” said Officer Nic Plemel, adding: “I have not personally responded once to an off-leash dog call.” (Which would normally be handled by the city’s animal control department.)

The officers and audience members seemed to agree that communication between neighbors is key. “Your neighbors are the best defense you have” against property crimes such as car prowls and burglaries, said Rios.

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Wednesday: Community meeting on traffic, police, more. Sunday: 12th Man rally at noon in the park

January 27th, 2015 by Mike

A meeting from 7-9 p.m. Wednesday will focus on plans for the now-defunct Waldo Hospital, traffic on Lake City Way, new apartments near Northgate Mall - and police and public safety.

The January meeting of the Maple Leaf Community Council is held at Olympic View Elementary School, 504 N.E. 95th St. Free, licensed child care will be provided.

According to the council’s newsletter, the main item on the agenda will be a 45-minute presentation by Aegis Living on plans to build an assisted living facility on the grounds of the old hospital at 15th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 85th Street.

There will also be a briefing from the Seattle Department of Transportation on Lake City Way, and information on the apartments near the mall.

Finally, the newsletter notes: “The Seattle Police Department will be on hand to talk about public safety. It’s no secret property crimes are a problem in Maple Leaf. It’s also no secret the priority SPD puts on property crimes needs adjustment.”

Police-related items being discussed in the neighborhood this week include squatters in a vacant house in the 9800 block of Eighth Avenue Northeast and a number of tents in the Thornton Creek woods behind the bus stop at Fifth Avenue Northeast and Northeast 103rd Street (across from Northgate Mall).

In non-police news: Maple Leaf’s 12th Man returns to the park at noon Superbowl Sunday!

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Endangered: The Northgate pedestrian bridge at I-5

January 25th, 2015 by Mike

Last week The Urbanist had this post: “Call To Action: Save the Northgate Pedestrian Bridge.”

It talks about the planned bridge over Interstate 5 to link North Seattle College and Licton Springs to the Northgate transit center and light rail hub.

When we last wrote about it, the projected cost was $20 million, paid by a variety of agencies, including Sound Transit.

Now The Urbanist reports:

The Northgate Pedestrian Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle oriented crossing of I-5 for the Northgate Link Station, is at risk of losing its funding in the summer. The Sound Transit Board placed an artificial time limit for the City of Seattle and Sound Transit to come up with a funding solution.

And it notes some of the benefits:

In recent years, new growth has been occurring at a rapid pace and transforming this area. Licton Springs also hosts North Seattle Community College, a number of office buildings, a hotel and some small retail. On the east side of this bridge lies the neighborhood of Maple Leaf, which also hosts mixed density, major retail outlets, library, and a community center. There is a significant draw between these two communities, and there ought to be a strong natural path for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between them.

For more details, and to take action, follow the link.

The Urbanist also has a post on pedestrian improvements along Lake City Way Northeast, noting: “Lake City Way is an arterial street in northeast Seattle that has been chronically unsafe for all users. It’s also a State highway, so features beyond sidewalks and beg buttons for people walking are mostly an afterthought.”

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